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Title: Assaulting the Order of Signs : language dissection in Avant-Garde Poetry : textual politics from Cubist and Futurist to Concrete and Digital poetics
Author: Schaffner, Anna Katharina
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis investigates the implications of and motivations for language dissection in avant-garde poetry. The act of taking language apart on different levels of its organisation became the hallmark of avant-garde poetry in the 1910s and 1920s as well as the 1950s and 1960s. While dissatisfaction with language and culture and epistemological language scepticism had been expressed before the historical avant-garde emerged, they never affected the status of the signifier or the conventional order of linguistic signs. The poets of the historical avant-garde were the first to effectuate their critique poetically, to touch upon the very structure of linguistic organisation. After World War II, the concrete poets built upon the quest of their forerunners and recuperate techniques, strategies, and dominant concerns of the historical avant-garde. The parallels between the two phases are not only formally striking: moreover, the initial emergence and post-war renaissance of language dissection was triggered by similar driving forces such as developments in the sphere of the fine arts and technological changes and inventions. In both cases the assault upon the order of signs is not just an artistic device, but also represents a cultural strategy motivated by utopian or critical agendas. As this thesis shows, different attributes of language are targeted in different poetical frameworks: some poets are mainly concerned with the representative aptitude of language, while others apply their criticism to its epistemological and cognition-structuring dimension. For some avant-gardists, the assault upon the order of signs presents an attempt to transgress the limits of what is speakable and thinkable. Yet others call attention to the arbitrary, social and convention-based side of language. All poets, however, by means of emphasising the material dimension of language, aim at raising awareness and stimulating reflection upon the properties of the sign system used as well as to encourage the recipient to rethink the nature of conventions and social agreement in general.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available